Tuesday, July 31, 2007

FDA approves first molecular-based lab test to detect metastatic breast cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first molecular-based laboratory test for detecting whether breast cancer has spread (metastasized) to nearby lymph nodes. The GeneSearch BLN Assay detects molecules that are abundant in breast tissue but scarce in a normal lymph node. The presence or absence of breast cancer cells in underarm lymph nodes is a powerful predictor of whether the cancer has spread and is used to help decide appropriate therapy for a woman with metastatic breast cancer. Lymph nodes are part of the system that helps protect the body against infection. The first lymph node that filters fluid from the breast is called the 'sentinel node,' because that is where breast cancer cells are likely to spread first. During a lumpectomy or mastectomy to remove a breast tumor, surgeons commonly remove the sentinel node for examination under a microscope. Sometimes the sentinel node is examined immediately and if tumor cells are found, additional lymph nodes are removed. A more extensive microscopic examination, requiring one to two days for results, is almost always performed. If tumor cells are only found with the later microscopic examination, the patient may require a second surgery to remove the remaining lymph nodes. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

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